Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I look at the world and I notice it's turning while my guitar gently weeps (The Beatles)

I recently blogged about the dire Eric Clapton autobiography on my Wozza's Place blog (http://www.wozzasplace.blogspot.com/) and mentioned that EC would probably make my top 20 guitarist list so I thought I'd put that to the test here.

So right off the bat I have to include on my rough list before getting down to 20:
George Harrison and John Lennon; Hendrix, of course; Jimmy Page; Leslie West; Alvin Lee; Chuck Berry; Keith Richards; Lenny Kaye; Muddy Waters; Neil Young and Stephen Stills; Pete Townshend; Roger McGuinn; David Gilmour; James Burton; Frank Zappa; Peter Green; Carlos Santana; Tony Iommi; Ritchie Blackmore; Joni Mitchell; Ry Cooder; Ernie Isley; Richard Lloyd; Joe Satriani; Eddie Van Halen; The Edge; Angus Young; Johnny Marr; John Squire; Dicky Betts and Duane Allman; Pat Travers; Rory Gallagher; Robby Krieger; Nick Drake; Jorma Kaukonen; Jerry Garcia; John Fogerty; Martin Barre; Ted Nugent; Chris Squire; Robin Trower; Dave Hill; Bill Frisell; George Benson; John Petrucci; Tom Morello; Andy Powell and Ted Turner; Billy Corgan; Adam Jones; Steven Wilson; Mikael Akerfeldt: Jesse Cook; John Mayer; Ron Wood; Stuart Adamson; Stone Gossard and Mike McCready; Lowell George; Billy Gibbons; Matthew Sweet.

That'll do. The most glaring omission is probably Jeff Beck but I only really like some stuff he did with The Yardbirds and I honestly can't add him to the list of my favourites based on a couple of songs.

So how many is that? 64 great guitarists, 65 when EC is included.

Hmm - how to judge them and leave out 45 of them?

Inventiveness, legacy, impact, originality, depth and breadth.

The Top Ten first of all (11 to 20 in the next post).

Obviously Jimi Hendrix is in a category all of his own and is the first name on the team sheet. A freak who like Miles Davis (Trumpet) and John Coltrane (Sax) single-handedly revolutionised his instrument. So many outstanding songs but I can't go past Voodoo Chile (both single and LP versions).

2 and 3 George Harrison and John Lennon. Yes I'm a Beatles/Lennon obsessive but they were also amazingly inventive guitarists. Best George moments come on Revolver and John's sublime visceral guitar on the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band's Why has to be heard to be believed.

4 Rory Gallagher. I've raved about Rory from time to time in the blog. Best moments come on the Irish Tour '74 album and Cradle Rock in particular.

Tony Iommi defined a whole genre of metal guitar, sludge rock, stoner rock - whatever you want to call it. So many great riffs but War Pigs is my pick.

Ritchie Blackmore is so great he sustained a career beyond Deep Purple into Rainbow. Tie between Rainbow Rising and Machine Head as his best work. P.S. Rest in peace Jon Lord who died this week. His organ guitar duels with Ritchie are part of the signature Deep Purple sound we all love so much.

7 Carlos Santana makes the earth move. Somehow he tapped into chords and sustain that no one else has.

8 Ry Cooder - Jesus On The Mainline contains simply the best slide guitar playing...ever!

9 Neil Young has done it all and seems to be able to play any style he wants - rockabilly, punk, folk, country, blues, and inspired rock guitar are all within his grasp. It's hard to blow past Hurricane but for me the lather he whips up on Southern Man (Journey From The Past) is amazingly succinct - even when he stretches out!

10 Frank Zappa and his Hot Rats album was revolutionary - like a lot of his music, but he was no one trick rock fusion guitarist. No pigeon holes for Frank. Try Watermelon in Easter Hay from the Joe's Garage triple and be prepared to be impressed.

So far - no EC. Will he make the top 20?


  1. Nice call out for Rory. Did you get to see him when he gigged in New Zealand?

    1. At the Auckland Town Hall in the early eighties? I have the event poster on my wall and the smile on my face still! Best concert I've ever been to.